I came to prison with the mindset that I was never going home. And so, I lost myself in the prison system. If you ask me if I was ready to go home after 2 or 3 years, I would have said yeah. But deep down, I was not! It took me 8 years to change and become a man. My mind and my heart told me that this was not a place for me. My actions were not intentional, and I believe that I should get a second chance. But I had to work for it. My mother always told me, “trouble was easy to get into but hard to get out of.” So, I worked hard on changing my ways. Those ways were being a thug. I wasn’t my true self, but the way the streets made me. Who am I? I never paid attention to that question before, because I was a follower. I was a follower of the same street rules and regulations as a thug.

My grandfather and my grandmother were my mom and dad, and they were the people I looked up to! My father was a strong man who provided and took care of his family by any means necessary. He was a hard-working man, with principles, morals, and integrity about himself. My mother was kind, caring, and the sweetest woman I ever met. She was also very hard working. She made sure I wanted for nothing. You can say that I was spoiled “LOL.” She not only cared and showered me with her love but her family and loved ones as well. Her attitude of caring and love went beyond family. Anyone and everyone in her presence was affected by her love!

My mother died while I was incarcerated. My father became sick, and I had no support. I was stressed. But as a man, I can not let these people take me down. Fight. Fight. Fight. Fight for what you want. Family, friends, and loved ones left when times get hard. I never burnt my bridges, not once! I always felt like my value had decreased to those who left me behind when they told me Life in Prison. Something I didn’t deserve. I cried out for years to get help and the ones who said that they loved me never helped. I was a featherweight in the ring with Mike Tyson, a heavy weight. Fight. Fight. Fight. Fight for what you want. I came out with scars, broken ribs, I fought back and it made me stronger. I created this man I am today with hard work and sacrifice. I had to teach myself. I had to be dedicated, determined, and have discipline. I gained knowledge and now I can produce from the wisdom I gained. I’m 31, and I’ve been in prison for 10 years. My daughter, Angel, is my motivation. So if I want freedom, that means change. I started learning how to start my own business. I want to create a future not just for me, but also for my family, and kids. I even want to help others who struggle. I want to open up a youth center to help kids and give back to society. It’s time for me to give back.